US 7882093 B2
A method in a computer system for retrieving data from one of multiple copies of the data is provided, referred to as the data management system. The data management system receives a request identifying at least one data object to be accessed. Then, the data management system queries a metabase to locate data copies that contain the identified at least one data object, wherein the data copies are created from similar source data, and wherein for each data copy the metabase contains an indication of the availability of the copy relative to other copies. Next, the data management system determines one of the located data copies to use to access the identified at least one data object, wherein the determination is made based on the indicated availability contained in the metabase for each of the located data copies. Then, the data management system accesses the identified at least one data object using the determined one of the located data copies.
1. A system for retrieving data, the system comprising:
at least one processor;
memory coupled to the processor;
means for receiving a request identifying at least one data object to be accessed;
means for querying an index to locate two or more data copies that contain the identified at least one data object, wherein for each of the two or more data copies, the index contains an indication of an availability of the data copy relative to other data copies,
wherein the two or more data copies are respectively stored on two or more different and separate data storage devices,
wherein the data storage devices are coupled via a network,
wherein a first indication of the availability of a first data copy includes a first indication related to a first time M for providing or accessing the at least one data object in response to an access request, and
wherein a second indication of the availability of a second data copy includes a second indication related to a second time M+N for providing or accessing the at least one data object in response to the access request,
where M and N are positive quantities of time;
means for automatically determining one of the two or more data copies to use to access the identified at least one data object,
wherein the determination is made based at least in part on the indicated availability contained in the index for each of the two or more data copies; and
means for providing an access request for accessing the identified at least one data object using the determined one of the two or more data copies,
wherein the access request is provided to one of the two or more different and separate data storage devices.
2. The system of
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6. The method of
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10. The system of
11. A non-transitory computer-readable medium storing computer-implementable instructions to perform a method in a computer system for retrieving data, the method comprising:
receiving a request identifying at least one data object to be accessed;
identifying multiple copies of the data object that satisfy the request;
wherein each of the multiple data copies are respectively stored on one of multiple different and separate data storage devices,
wherein the multiple different and separate data storage devices are substantially permanent or non-volatile storage devices, and
wherein the multiple data storage devices are coupled to the computer system via a network, and
for each identified copy, determining an availability of the identified copy relative to the other identified copies,
wherein a first availability of a first identified copy includes a first indication related to a first time M for accessing or providing the identified at least one data object in response to an access request, and
wherein a second indication of the availability of a second identified copy includes a second indication related to a second time M+N for providing or accessing the identified at least one data object in response to the access request,
where M and N are positive quantities of time;
receiving a selection of one of the multiple identified copies to use for accessing the identified at least one data object, wherein the selection is based on the determined availability of the identified copies; and
providing an access request for accessing the identified at least one data object using the selected copy, wherein the access request is provided to one of the multiple different and separate data storage devices.
12. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
13. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
14. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
15. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
16. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
17. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
18. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
19. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
20. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
21. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
22. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
23. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
24. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of
25. A tangible computer-readable medium containing instructions for controlling a computer system to create copies of data, by a method comprising:
identifying source data stored within a computer system;
creating a primary copy of the data stored within the computer system;
updating a database with information describing availability of the primary copy of the data stored within the computer system,
wherein a subsequent data access request can determine a precedence with which to access copies of requested data based on the availability information, and
wherein the availability information includes at least
a type of media on which the primary copy of the data is stored or
a location where the data copy is stored or
types of data management operations that have been performed on the data copy; and
performing a data management operation on the primary copy to create at least one secondary copy of the data stored within the computer system by accessing the primary copy and without accessing source data,
wherein the data management operation is selected from the group consisting essentially of encryption, de-duplication, and content indexing; and
receiving a request to access data and determine which of the primary and at least one secondary copy to use to access the data based at least in part on the availability information stored within the database.
The present application is a divisional of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/694,890 entitled “MANAGING COPIES OF DATA,” filed on Mar. 30, 2007, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,734,669 which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/871,735 entitled “METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR SEARCHING STORED DATA,” and filed on Dec. 22, 2006, both of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
Computer systems contain large amounts of data. This data includes personal data, such as financial data, customer/client/patient contact data, audio/visual data, and much more. This data also includes information related to the correct operation of the computer system, such as operating system files, application files, user settings, and so on. With the increased reliance on computer systems to store critical information, the importance of protecting data has grown. Traditional data protection systems, such as backup systems, receive an identification of a file location to protect, then create one or more secondary copies containing the contents of the protected up location. These secondary copies can then later be used to restore the original data should anything happen to the original data.
In corporate environments, protecting data is generally part of a routine process that is performed for many computer systems within an organization. For example, a company might back up critical computing systems related to e-commerce such as databases, file servers, web servers, and so on. The company may also back up computing systems used by each of its employees, such as those used by an accounting department, marketing department, engineering, and so forth.
Because of the amount of data in an organization, secondary copies of data for an organization's computing systems are often very large and can require the purchase of expensive storage devices and storage media. The restoration of data in the event of data loss is also slowed by the large size of the secondary copy. As the amount of protected data increases, locating and restoring data requires more actions to be taken. For example, it may be necessary to search many backup tapes to find the correct data. The quantity of secondary copy media, such as tapes, may mean that some secondary copy media has been moved offsite such that it must first be retrieved before data can be recovered from it. Each of these factors increases the cost of protecting data and the time required to recover data in the event of data loss. Quick recovery of data is often critical to today's businesses, and any additional delay could affect business operations and customers' satisfaction with the business.
Management of data in this way also consumes resources, and it is often desirable to minimize impact to computing systems to provide maximum availability for handling customer or employee requests. Some organizations defer activities such as performing backups until off hours, such as early in the morning to reduce the impact to the availability of systems. However, recovery of a file may be needed during business hours or at other inconvenient times, and choosing the best way to retrieve the data is important for maintaining the availably of the system.
There is a need for a system that overcomes the above problems, as well as one that provides additional benefits.
In the drawings, the same reference numbers and acronyms identify elements or acts with the same or similar functionality for ease of understanding and convenience. To easily identify the discussion of any particular element or act, the most significant digit or digits in a reference number refer to the Figure number in which that element is first introduced (e.g., element 110 is first introduced and discussed with respect to
The headings provided herein are for convenience only and do not necessarily affect the scope or meaning of the claimed invention.
A data management system often contains a primary or production copy of data, and one or more secondary copies created from the primary copy of the data. For example, a web server may contain the primary copy of the data. A snapshot, change journal, replication, migration, backup, or other storage operation may be performed to create the one or more secondary copies of the data. For example, a snapshot operation may create an image of the current state of the primary copy, and the data management system may transfer the snapshot to another system for storage as a secondary copy. The secondary copy may later be encrypted or otherwise processed to create additional secondary copies. For example, an organization may initially backup data to a first secondary copy and later encrypt the data to a second secondary copy before the data is stored in a third-party offsite storage facility.
A method and system for managing copies of data is provided, referred to as the data management system. The data management system creates and manages copies of data. For example, the data management system may create a secondary copy such as a backup of the data stored on each of the computer systems within an organization. The secondary copy represents a second version of the original source version of the data. The data management system may make additional secondary copies of the data, called auxiliary copies. For example, the data management system may create secondary copies to perform additional operations on the data (e.g., encryption and protection) and to store the data in a new location (e.g., in a tape library or at an off-site data vault). The data management system may also store information about the data managed by the system within a data structure such as a database, also called a metabase. The metabase may contain information such as when the data management system performed the last data copy, where each of the data copies is stored, what files are contained within each data copy, and so on. When the data management system receives a request to access data, there may be many copies of the data available, and the data management system selects a desirable copy of the data to satisfy the access request as described in further detail below. The data management system may first consult the metabase to determine which copies contain the requested data without accessing the computer systems where the data is actually stored. In this way, the data management system provides high availability of data while reducing the impact of access requests on critical computer systems.
The invention will now be described with respect to various embodiments. The following description provides specific details for a thorough understanding of, and enabling description for, these embodiments of the invention. However, one skilled in the art will understand that the invention may be practiced without these details. In other instances, well-known structures and functions have not been shown or described in detail to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the description of the embodiments of the invention.
The terminology used in the description presented below is intended to be interpreted in its broadest reasonable manner, even though it is being used in conjunction with a detailed description of certain specific embodiments of the invention. Certain terms may even be emphasized below; however, any terminology intended to be interpreted in any restricted manner will be overtly and specifically defined as such in this Detailed Description section.
Unless described otherwise below, aspects of the invention may be practiced with conventional systems. Thus, the construction and operation of the various blocks shown in
Aspects of the invention can be embodied in a special purpose computer or data processor that is specifically programmed, configured, or constructed to perform one or more of the computer-executable instructions explained in detail herein. Aspects of the invention can also be practiced in distributed computing environments where tasks or modules are performed by remote processing devices, which are linked through a communications network, such as a Local Area Network (LAN), Wide Area Network (WAN), Storage Area Network (SAN), Fibre Channel, or the Internet. In a distributed computing environment, program modules may be located in both local and remote memory storage devices.
Aspects of the invention may be stored or distributed on computer-readable media, including magnetically or optically readable computer discs, hard-wired or preprogrammed chips (e.g., EEPROM semiconductor chips), nanotechnology memory, biological memory, or other data storage media. Indeed, computer implemented instructions, data structures, screen displays, and other data under aspects of the invention may be distributed over the Internet or over other networks (including wireless networks), on a propagated signal on a propagation medium (e.g., an electromagnetic wave(s), a sound wave, etc.) over a period of time, or they may be provided on any analog or digital network (packet switched, circuit switched, or other scheme). Those skilled in the relevant art will recognize that portions of the invention reside on a server computer, while corresponding portions reside on a client computer such as a mobile or portable device, and thus, while certain hardware platforms are described herein, aspects of the invention are equally applicable to nodes on a network.
The data management system may create the primary copy of the data stored on a computer system in a variety of ways. In some embodiments, snapshot software installed on each computer system is used to capture a point-in-time view of the data on a computer system. The data management system may copy the snapshot data to another computer system. Snapshots may contain a snapshot of all of the data on a system, or they may be incremental and provide information about the data that has changed since a previous snapshot was taken. In some embodiments, change journaling software (often built into the operating system) is used to detect changes to data and to update the primary copy. In some embodiments, an agent is installed for each type of data stored on a computer system. The agent may be designed to copy a specific type of data (e.g., database data or data produced by a specific application) more efficiently than a simple copy of the underlying data files. Once a primary copy has been created, additional operations can be performed on the data without accessing the original computer system from which the data was copied.
The data management system may copy data from a computer system as files or the data management system may process the contents of the files as application data. As described above, an agent may be installed that interprets data produced by a particular application. For example, data stored by an email server (e.g., Microsoft Exchange Server), may be stored in a series of files. Creating a copy of the files is often not as useful as interpreting the data itself and storing the data in its interpreted form. For example, the data from an email server may be stored in one large file with a non-descriptive name, such as “mailbox.dat,” but it is more useful when searching for data to understand that the file contains mailboxes belonging to specific users, and that each of those mailboxes contains email messages having descriptive information such as a subject, TO header, and so on. Therefore, rather than simply storing the file, the data management system may parse, recognize, and store information about each user's mailbox and the email messages contained within it. Similar processes may be used to store data created by database applications, word processors, accounting software, and so on.
In some embodiments, the data management system performs additional operations on secondary copies of data. For example, an organization may create an unencrypted first secondary copy, but perform encryption on an auxiliary secondary copy to allow the organization to safely store the auxiliary secondary copy with a third-party data storage provider without worrying that the third party may view confidential information contained within the data. The data management system may also examine the first secondary copy and eliminate duplicate data objects within the first secondary copy to create a single instance of each data object. This process is generally referred to as single instancing. For example, when copying data from multiple computer systems within an organization, each computer system will often contain similar files for the operating system and configuration data. Storing multiple copies of the same data wastes storage space, and increases the time and cost associated with data management, so single instancing can provide substantial cost savings to an organization.
In some embodiments, the data management system creates an index of the content contained within each copy. The index information may be stored within the metabase. The index may contain information such as each of the locations where the data is located, keywords contained within the data, classifications assigned to the data, and user access information describing which users are permitted to view the contents of the data. The content index may be used to facilitate search and retrieval of the data, such as in response to a user request to restore a particular file.
In some embodiments, the data management system performs the operations described above based on a storage policy. For example, operations such as the creation of a primary copy of data may be performed automatically on a schedule. The storage policy defines the types of operations to be performed, and the conditions that trigger their performance. For example, a storage policy may specify the creation of a secondary copy of data onto tape when the primary copy of the data reaches a certain size or is a certain number of days old. The storage policy may also define which computer systems are involved in a particular data management operation, such as a particular pool of servers to use for performing encryption of data.
The data management system periodically receives requests to retrieve data from users and from the system itself. For example, a user may search for a specific file or document, and the data management system finds matching data. The system may request a copy of the data on which to perform a data management operation. For example, if a storage policy specifies that an encrypted copy of data should be created, the data management system may query the metabase to locate an available copy of the data to encrypt, so that the original source of the data is not impacted by the encryption operation.
In some embodiments, the data management system determines availability based on the environment of the entity requesting the data. For example, if a user of a computer system within an organization is requesting data from another computer system within the organization, then the data management system may factor in the subnet of the two computer systems relative to each other. If a copy is available on the same subnet as the requesting user, then that copy may be preferred over a copy on a different subnet. As another example, the data management system may hierarchically group computer systems within an organization into storage cells that share certain storage characteristics (e.g., network location or storage policies), and a copy may be preferred based on the storage cell that the computer system storing it is associated with. Alternatively or additionally, the purpose of the retrieval request may influence the copy used to retrieve the data. For example, a legal discovery request may specify certain documents that must be retrieved within a long timeframe (e.g., a year), such that the most available copy is not required and a slower copy can be used so that other operations can use the most available copy.
In some embodiments, the data management system determines the age of the data available in each copy. For example, the time a copy was created may be stored with the copy, or the copy may contain other information indicating the time that the data was last modified. For some search requests, an older copy of the data available on tape media may be acceptable, whereas for other search requests only a very recent copy will satisfy the request. If the user is searching for a particular file, the data management system may determine that although a particular copy is older and out of date with respect to some files, the file requested by the user has not changed since the copy was made and the copy can adequately satisfy the user's request. Using this type of analysis, the data management system can select the most appropriate copy to use for many different circumstances.
In some embodiments, the data management system restricts the data accessible to a user based on the user's identity and authentication information stored within the system. Each data object may contain authentication information stored within the metabase that specifies the accessibility of the data object for each user, or the data management system may leverage an existing authentication system, such as Microsoft Windows Active Directory. For example, a person on the engineering team of an organization may be unable to view data objects copied from the CEO's computer system, even though the data objects match the engineer's search criteria. Some copies may also be inaccessible to certain users. For example, some employees within an organization may not be permitted to decrypt encrypted data copies, such that those copies are unavailable for satisfying a data retrieval request from the employee.
In some embodiments, the data management system provides a user interface for identifying and retrieving data. For example, the data management system may host a web server that provides access to the metabase, such that a user can submit a search request and find matching data categorized by the metabase. Then, the user can access the web server using a web browser. This allows the user to access data regardless of the operating system of the computer system on which the data was originally stored and regardless of the operating system of the computer system that the user is submitting the request from. In some embodiments, the data management system converts the data within search results returned in response to a user search into a format that is viewable within the web browser. For example, if a search returns a document that is normally opened by a particular word processing program, the data management system may provide the ability to convert and view the document as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) within the requesting user's web browser. In this way, a user can search for documents created by many types of applications and on many platforms without installing additional software.
Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, throughout the description and the claims, the words “comprise,” “comprising,” and the like are to be construed in an inclusive sense, as opposed to an exclusive or exhaustive sense; that is to say, in the sense of “including, but not limited to.” The word “coupled,” as generally used herein, refers to two or more elements that may be either directly connected, or connected by way of one or more intermediate elements. Additionally, the words “herein,” “above,” “below,” and words of similar import, when used in this application, shall refer to this application as a whole and not to any particular portions of this application. Where the context permits, words in the above Detailed Description using the singular or plural number may also include the plural or singular number respectively. The word “or” in reference to a list of two or more items, that word covers all of the following interpretations of the word: any of the items in the list, all of the items in the list, and any combination of the items in the list.
The above detailed description of embodiments of the invention is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed above. While specific embodiments of, and examples for, the invention are described above for illustrative purposes, various equivalent modifications are possible within the scope of the invention, as those skilled in the relevant art will recognize. For example, while processes or blocks are presented in a given order, alternative embodiments may perform routines having steps, or employ systems having blocks, in a different order, and some processes or blocks may be deleted, moved, added, subdivided, combined, and/or modified. Each of these processes or blocks may be implemented in a variety of different ways. In addition, while processes or blocks are at times shown as being performed in series, these processes or blocks may instead be performed in parallel, or may be performed at different times.
The teachings of the invention provided herein can be applied to other systems, not necessarily the system described above. The elements and acts of the various embodiments described above can be combined to provide further embodiments.
These and other changes can be made to the invention in light of the above Detailed Description. While the above description details certain embodiments of the invention and describes the best mode contemplated, no matter how detailed the above appears in text, the invention can be practiced in many ways. Details of the system may vary considerably in implementation details, while still being encompassed by the invention disclosed herein. As noted above, particular terminology used when describing certain features or aspects of the invention should not be taken to imply that the terminology is being redefined herein to be restricted to any specific characteristics, features, or aspects of the invention with which that terminology is associated. In general, the terms used in the following claims should not be construed to limit the invention to the specific embodiments disclosed in the specification, unless the above Detailed Description section explicitly defines such terms. Accordingly, the actual scope of the invention encompasses not only the disclosed embodiments, but also all equivalent ways of practicing or implementing the invention under the claims.
While certain aspects of the invention are presented below in certain claim forms, the inventors contemplate the various aspects of the invention in any number of claim forms. For example, while only one aspect of the invention is recited as embodied in a computer-readable medium, other aspects may likewise be embodied in a computer-readable medium. Accordingly, the inventors reserve the right to add additional claims after filing the application to pursue such additional claim forms for other aspects of the invention.